A couple of years ago I set myself the challenge to read 50 books in a year. About one a week, not too hard for someone who always has a book on the go and is a tad competitive. I came in at 51 books for that year, 56 for the next, and I have started on my list for this year. What is great about it is not the number of books, but the fact I write them all down. When someone asks me what I have read lately, I don’t just stare blankly at them as I try and remember, I can look at my list and recommend something they might like.
So here are my top five books from 2014, in the order they were read;
The Goldfinch- Donna Tart
I was utterly obsessed with Tart’s first novel, The Secret History when I was eighteen. Part of my reading list for an American Literature paper, I sat in my hostel room and devoured it imagining myself at an East Coast university, part of an elitist and drug fuelled secret society. The Goldfinch is her third novel and a huge epic about a stolen painting, but more so a coming of age story. I love the way you cannot trust the narrator entirely- you are getting their version of the story and little by little you realise that may not be the whole truth as you piece the parts of the puzzle together.
The Light Between Oceans– M L Stedman
Read this if you want to be devastated and cry and feel for every flawed and beautiful character on the pages. A story of everyone trying to do the right thing, and yet everyone losing in some way, this is a must read from a new Australian author.
Run– Ann Patchett
I discovered Ann Patchett when I read Bel Canto- a beautiful observation of human nature, and have been reading everything of hers I can find since then. Run is an analysis of family relationships, ethnicity and America told beautifully. It makes you think about nature versus nurture, how privilege affects everyone, especially interesting for me living in the States where the ‘every man for himself’ mentality certainly wins out.
The Children Act– Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan is my favourite author. The way he uses language is so precise and perfect and… British I am in complete awe of him. Although I feel his last few novels have not been nearly as good as his earlier works, The Children Act was amazing. I found a signed first edition at my local bookshop and devoured it in a day, relishing in the powerful punch McEwan’s writing delivers.
Bad Feminist– Roxanne Gay
Not usually a non fiction reader, this collection of essays on gender and race was fantastic. Gay nails the mix of anecdote with academic research for an intelligent and engaging read. I would recommend this to men, women, and teenagers who think that the fight for gender equality is over, or feel that the term ‘feminism’ isn’t for them.
What do you suggest for my reading list of 2015?